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gument which would produce conviction on the most trivial subject, it is the business of the following sheets to inquire.
In deciding the question whether persons whom we deem unbaptized are entitled to approach the Lord's table, we must examine the connexion subsisting betwixt the two positive ordinances, baptism and the Lord's supper.
Our opponents contend that there is such a connexion betwixt these as renders them inseparable; so that he who is deemed unbaptized, is ipso facto, apart from any consideration whatever of the cause of that omission, disqualified for approaching the sacred elements. We contend that the absence of baptism may disqualify, and that it does disqualify, wherever it appears to proceed from a criminal motive; that is, wherever its neglect is accompanied with a conviction of its divine authority. In this case we consider the piety of such a person at least as doubtful; but when the omission proceeds from involuntary prejudice, or mistake, when the party evinces his conscientious adherence to known duty, by the general tenor of his conduct; we do not consider the mere absence of baptism as a sufficient bar to communion. On this ground we cheerfully receive pious Pædobaptists, not from the supposition that the ceremony which they underwent in their infancy, possesses the smallest validity, but as sincere followers of Christ; and for my own part, I should feel as little hesitation in admitting such as deny the perpetuity of baptism, whenever the evidence of their piety is equally clear and decisive.
It is apparent that the whole controversy turns on the connexion betwixt the two positive institutes; and that in order to justify the conduct of our opponents, it is not sufficient to evince the authority or perpetuity of cach, and the consequent obligation of attending to both; it is necessary to shew the dependance of one upon the other ; not merely that they are both clearly and unequivocally enjoined, but that the one is prescribed with a view to the other.
There are two methods by which we may suppose this to be effected ; either by shewing their inherent and intrinsic dependence, or by making it appear that they are connected by positive law. Betwixt ritual observances, it is seldom, if ever, possible to discover an inherent connexion ; in the present case it will probably not be attempted. If the advocates of exclusive communion succeed, it must be in the last of these methods; it must be by proving from express declarations of Scripture, that baptism is an invariable and essential prerequisite to communion. А Jew would have found no difficulty in establishing this fact respecting circumcision and the passover; he would have immediately pointed to the book of Exodus, where we find an express prohibition of an uncircumcised person from partaking of the paschal lamb. Let some similar evidence be adduced on the present subject ; let some declaration from Scripture be exhibited which distinctly prohibits the celebration of the Lord's supper by any person who, from a misconception of its nature, has omitted the baptismal ceremony, and the controversy will be at rest. The reader can scarcely be too often reminded that this is the very hinge of the present debate, which (as appears from the title of his pamphlet) Mr. Fuller clearly perceived, however unsuccessful he may have been in establishing that fundamental position. Much that Mr. Kinghorn has advanced will be found to be totally irrelevant to the inquiry in hand ; and in more instances than one, the intelligent reader will perceive him to have made concessions which are destructive of his cause. But let us proceed to a careful investigation of the arguments by which he attempts to establish the aforesaid connerion.
His attempt to establish the connexion contended for, from the apostolic com
mission and primitive precedent.
My respectable opponent commences this branch of the argument by quoting the apostolic commission, justly remarking that whatever may be thought of John's baptism, the ceremony enjoined in that commission must belong, in the strictest sense, to the Christian dispensation. The commission is as follows :—“Go, therefore, and teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Matt. 28: 19, 20. Or as it is recorded in Luke" Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved."" This," Mr. Kinghorn observes, " is the law; the-Acts of the Apostles are a commentary on that law; not leaving us to collect from mere precedents what ought to be done, but shewing us how the law was practically explained by those who perfectly understood it." He reminds us " that in every instance where the history descends to particulars, we find they constantly adhered to this rule ; and that when they taught and men believed, the Apostles baptized them, and then farther instructed them in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”
We are as ready to allow as Mr. Kinghorn, that baptism was enjoined by the apostolic commission; we are perfectly agreed with him respecting the law of baptism, and are accustomed to explain its nature, and enforce its authority by the same arguments as he himself would employ. We have no controversy with him, or with his party, on the subject of baptism, considered apart from the Lord's supper ; and were he disputing with such as deny its original appointment, or its perpetuity, the passages he quotes would be fully to his purpose. But where the inquiry turns, not on the nature or obligation of baptism, but on the necessary dependence of another institution upon it, we are at a loss to perceive in what manner the quotation applies to the question before us. To us it is inconceivable how any thing more is deducible from the law of baptism, than its present and perpetual obligation. The existence of a law establishes the obligation of a correspondent duty and nothing more. The utmost efforts of ingenuity can extort no other inference from it, than that a portion of blame attaches to such as have neglected to comply with it, variable in its degree by an infinity of circumstances, too subtle to be ascertained, and too numerous to be recited. We feel no hesitation in avowing our belief that Pædobaptists of all denominations have failed in a certain part of their duty; for this is a legitimate inference from the perpetuity of the baptismal ordinance, joined with our persuasion that we have interpreted it correctly. But if we are immediately to conclude from thence that they are disqualified for Christian communion, we must seek a church which consists of members who have failed in no branch of obedience; and must consequently despair of finding fit communicants apart from the spirits of just men made perfect. Examine the idea of law with the utmost rigor, turn it on all sides, and it will present nothing beyond the obligation to a certain species of conduct, so that if Pædobaptists are really disqualified for the Lord's supper, it must be for some other reason than their non-compliance with a law, or otherwise we must insist upon the refusal of every individual who has not discharged all his obligations. To expatiate on the distinctness and solemnity with which the baptismal ceremony was enjoined, is little less than trifling, in a debate with persons who fully accede to every part of the statement, and who wish to be informed, not whether our Pædobaptist brethren are in an error, but whether its moral amount, its specific nature, is such as to annul their claims to Christian communion. On this point, the passages adduced maintain a profound silence.
If the practice of strict communion derives no support from the law of baptism, it is impossible it should derive it from apostolical precedent; since the Apostles, as this author observes, adhered constantly to the rule. They did neither more nor less than its letter enjoined; consequently we must be mistaken if we imagine we can infer any thing from their practice, beyond what a just and fair interpretation of its terms would suggest. If the Acts of the Apostles are, as Mr. Kinghorn asserts, “a commentary on the law, shewing us how it was practically explained,” it is impossible it should contain a tittle more than is found in the text. Let us see how the Apostles acted. “When they taught and men believed,” says our Author, “the Apostles baptized them.” Whom did they baptize? Undoubtedly such, and such only, as were convinced, not merely of the truth of Christianity, but of the obligation of the particular rite to which they attended. This is precisely what we do. When we have reason to believe that any part of our hearers have received the truth in the love of it, we proceed to explain the nature, and to enforce the duty, of baptism ; and upon their expressing their conviction of its divine authority we baptize them. Such a previous conviction is necessary to render it a reasonable service. We administer that rite to every description of persons whom our opponents themselves deem qualified, and withhold it under no circumstances in which the Apostles would have practised it. Wherein then, as far as that institution is concerned, does our practice differ from that of the Apostles ? Our opponents will reply, that though in the administration of that rite, our conduct corresponds with the primitive pattern, yet it differs in this, that we receive the unbaptized to our communion, which was not done in the apostolic age. To this we reply, that at that period no good men entertained a doubt respecting its nature; that it was impossible they should, while it was exemplified before their eyes in the practice of the Apostles and the Evangelists; that he who refused to abide by the decision of inspired men,
would necessarily have forfeited his claim to be considered as a Christian ; that a new state of things has arisen, in which, from a variety of causes, the doctrine of baptism has been involved in obscurity; that some of the best of men put a different interpretation on the language of Scripture on this subject from ourselves; and that it is great presumption to claim the same deference with the Apostles, and to treat those who differ from us on the sense of Scripture, as though they avowedly opposed themselves to apostolic authority. To misinterpret is surely not the same thing as wilfully to contradict; and however confident we may be of the correctness of our own interpretation, to place such as are incapable of receiving it, on the same level with those who withstood the Apostles, differs liule, if at all, from the claim of infallibility. We reason, as we conceive conclusively, in favor of adult, in opposition to infant baptism; our Pædobaptist brethren
avow their inability to discern the justice of our conclusion; and are they on that account to be viewed in the same light as though they intentionally rejected the decision of inspired men ? What is this but to set up a claim to inspiration, or at least to such an infallible guidance in the explanation of Scripture, as is equally exempt from the danger of error or mistake? If we examine it accurately, it amounts to more than a claim to infallibility ; it implies in the Pædobaptists a knowledge of this extraordinary fact. The Apostles were not only inspired, and consequently infallible teachers, but were known and acknowledged to be such by the primitive Christians; and before we presume to demand an implicit acquiescence in our conclusions, and to consider ourselves entitled to treat dissentients as we suppose the opponents of the Apostles would have been treated, it behoves us to evince our possession of infallibility by similar evidence. As I have not heard of our opponents making such an attempt, I cannot sufficiently express my surprise at the loftiness of their pretensions, and the arrogance of their language. In their dialect all Christians besides themselves are “ opposed to a divine command,” (Booth), “refuse subjection to Christ, and violate the laws of his house." (Kinghorn.)
The justice of their proceeding, founded on the pretension of apostolical precedent, is perfectly congenial with its modesty. Upon the supposition that a professor of Christianity, in the times of the Apostles, had scrupled the admission of adult baptism, could he, we would ask, in the circumstances then existing, have been considered as a good man, or a genuine convert? The reply will unquestionably be, no. “He,” said St. John, “who is of God heareth us; he who heareth not us, is not of God; hereby ye know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."
In this case then, it is admitted that the simple fact of rejecting adult baptism would have been sufficient to set aside a pretension to the Christian character. Is it sufficient now? Are the Pædobaptists to be universally considered as bad men, or at least as persons whose Christianity is doubtful? Nothing more distant from the avowed sentiments of our opponents.
Where then is the justice of classing together men of the most opposite descriptions; or of inferring, that because the Apostles would have refused communion to an unbaptized person, at a time when it is acknowledged that none but false professors could remain in that state, it is our duty to refuse it to some of the most excellent of the earth, merely on account of the absence of that ceremony ? As it is admitted on all hands that baptism was then so circumstanced that the omission of it was inconsistent with a credible profession of piety, nothing more is necessary to account for the